European Smartphone Growth Tops Global Rankings

Europe’s smartphone market grew by 8 percent annually in the third quarter, making it the world’s fastest-growing region, Canalys said in figures released over the weekend.

European smartphone sales outpaced those of Asia Pacific, which grew by 6 percent.

The figures represent Europe’s best performing third quarter in history, boosted by Samsung, which sold 18.7 million units in the quarter, up 26 percent year-on-year.

Samsung’s growth came in part at the expense of Huawei, which maintained its No. 2 position in spite of having been placed on a US trade blacklist earlier this year.

The Galaxy S10. Samsung

Chinese expansion

Huawei sold 11.6 million units, up from 8.5 million the previous quarter but lower than the first quarter and flat when compared with the same quarter in 2018.

Xiaomi grew 73 percent in the region, driven by aggressive market expansion a strong range of products, consolidating its No. 4 position after Apple.

Apple, meanwhile, ranked No. 3 in Europe, with sales of 9.8 million for the quarter, but this was actually a decline of 4 percent year-on-year.

Canalys analyst Mo Jia said Europe forms an attractive target market for Chinese vendors due to its roughly even split between sales via operators, at 47 percent, and direct sales of unlocked phones, at 50 percent.

Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi, as well as Oppo, Oneplus, Realme and Vivo, are also keen to increase their sales in the region at the expense of Huawei, Jia said.

Xiaomi’s growth also took sales from HMD Global, which sells phones under the Nokia brand, and maintained the No. 5 spot with a share of just 1.8 percent, roughly ten times smaller than Xiaomi at 10.5 percent.

Brexit turmoil

The uncertainty caused by the UK’s exit from the EU has had both negative and positive effects on the market,said Canalys analyst Ben Stanton.

He said premium smartphone sales from Samsung and Apple accelerating before each Brexit deadline this year, in March and October, as distributors stockpiled in order to head off a possible tariff risk, followed by a dip in sales.

He said the rollout of 5G across the region creates “great opportunities”, with network fragmentation creating a broader range of potential partners for smartphone vendors than in the US or China.

“Operators will continue to make bold ranging decisions as the 5G battle shifts to the mid-range next year,” Stanton said.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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